Iíve never been so moved to violence over something so stupid in my life. From the beginning, shall we?
On my second morning in London, I was asked, "And what are you going to do today?" Before I answered, visions of rose-petal Vivienne Westwood boots danced in my head, and I happily listed my plans. "I'm going to Covent Garden and I'm going shopping and I'm going to visit the Amazon at her salon and I'm going shopping and also, I'm going shopping."
I did go to Covent Garden that day, and I did visit the Amazon at her salon. I even shopped, though the only thing I bought was Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, and that's only because my personal library, weirdly, still lacked it. Also, your Mare can't go too long without spending a quid or ten in London. It makes her twitchy.
Mostly though, I walked. I trudged up and down tiny roadways, and major high streets. I made mystery lefts and blind rights, not really knowing where I was going, and not really caring, either. The weather was right for it, and I had a lot of non-thinking to do. I popped into shops here and there, of course (because London is for introspection, but not complete personality changes after all). Mainly, though, I just walked, and refuelled and calmed my soul a little.
The most important stop I made that afternoon was at a phone-box somewhere near... somewhere. I had an urge to call home, to speak to my mother, to see if she was having a broken kind of day or not. After ascertaining my safety in a location a distance that is further than the approved four feet from her side, she told me something that jarred me, that made me cry a little, and then it made me feel... better.
"I want to tell you something but I don't want it to bring you down,Ē she said, from her office, 5500km away. ďAnna called me. She didn't want to call me, but Cindy told her, "Ma, you have to call. You have to tell her." And so Anna called me last night, to tell me that Cindy had a dream."
Anna, poppets, is a family friend, a paisan, a lovely woman whoís heart is bigger than her head. She's known my mother since they were embryos, and Cindy is her daughter. Cindy and I used to play together as children, and I think the last time I saw her before the funeral home, was very briefly, about 10 years ago. Why Cindy had this dream, I don't know, but I'm not questioning it too much, because for every single question, there are exactly no answers. Anyway.
"So Anna called. Cindy had a dream the other night that she was in her room and she suddenly felt this something, this presence with her, this light in her room. And she asked, in her dream, "Frankie! Is that you? Let me see you!"
And my brother, with his big smile, showed himself to Cindy, this girl whose face I have had to struggle to remember, but who cried along with us at the funeral home. I stood in that phone box, 5500km away from home, and felt a frisson of what could only be called excitement. Tearful excitement, but excitement all the same. My brother! My brother had made contact! And I know I sound like a looney right now, but dammit, wouldn't you want it to be true? In the phone-box, I bit my tongue, and let my mother continue.
"So, she says that she saw Frankie, because he showed himself to her. Then, in her dream, Cindy asked him, "Frankie! Is it true what they say about heaven?" And Frankie said, "I can't tell you that. But will you tell my Mom that I'm ok?"
God, poppets, isn't that lovely? I mean, I know, completely barmy, and maybe we're all just so desperate from pain and grief and missing him that we're hanging on to an innocent little dream. But I donít care! I believe it! Iím choosing to believe it, because it could very well be true, which means that Frankie is ok, that heís somewhere and heís not just gone and dammit, knowing that helps! It does! It really does! It did, 5500km away from here, in a phone-box somewhere in London, and two and a half weeks later, it still does. It gives us all Ė my mother, my father, my sister and I - a common sense of relief, a reprieve from the pain, something to hang onto.
Except, except, exceptÖ
I have this uncle, see?
Iíve mentioned him before, with his Kingdom Hall, and his knocking on doors and his Jehovahís Witness ways. Heís kind of preachy and holier-than-thou, and loves a chance to pontificate, but for the most part, his heart is in the right place, and we all get along as well as your average famiglia does.
Heís my fatherís brother, you know? Heís another part in the extended nucleus that is my big, fat Italian family. That he converted from the clanís casual Roman Catholicism a few decades ago doesnít really bother anyone anymore. It puzzles us, surely, as he always claimed to be the kind of Catholic who actually used his rosary, rather than just hanging it from his rear-view mirror like every other Italian boy of a certain age, but weíve learned not to question too much anymore, as dinner conversation just tends to get much louder and go south from there.
He comes over on Christmas, you know. And for the first few years, weíd forget, and wish him a Merry Christmas. Instead of accepting the greeting, heíd say firmly, ďI donít celebrate that.Ē And then he would hang his coat, and pop one of my motherís homemade traditional Christmas savouries into his mouth. After a few years, we just stopped offering him the greetings of the season. After all, in not saying Buon Natale, what we were indeed saying was, ďYouíre family, and youíre welcome here, regardless of what you practice. And we love you and respect you enough to not say Merry Christmas to you.Ē
Right? Right? I mean, that works, right? Itís family, after all? Bloody goddamn family?
Anyway, this uncle; he and my father own a restaurant together. Zioís the chef, Papa` is the front of house. My father is obviously grieving right now, and in the down times, while theyíre preparing for the day, or for the enormous number of Christmas party caterings they have this season, when my fatherís mind is allowed to wander, Iím sure he weeps to himself, and to his brother, for his lost son. Itís his brother, after all, who also lost a nephew. Itís his brother who he can trust with his pain.
He told us the other day that he had relayed the story of Cindyís dream to my uncle, a tale he must have told with some kind of lift in his heart. My uncle replied with scorn that he shouldnít believe things like that, that theyíre false and nothing but Satanís way of getting to you. And my father, my poor, vulnerable father, whoís lost his son, who is watching his family deal with unbelievable pain, who had been clinging to that bit of possible miracle as a salve to the grief, repeated what my Zio had said with nothing but defeat in his voice.
I donít know why Iím so angry. Why am I so blazingly mad? I mean, Iím actually seeing red here, poppets! On the one hand, I suppose Iím being silly, because neither one nor the other is based in science, in facts, in something concrete and reasonable. I shouldnít cling to one, or give credence to the other, and if I do, there is no reason that I canít make a choice, that my father canít make a choice to believe or not to believe. It may just be someoneís late night indigestion; it may very well be Frankie talking to us from the other side. It doesnít matter, though, does it? Not if it doesnít hurt anyone, and it helps us.
That makes sense, right? Right?
My fatherís heart is bleeding and someone said they had a dream that his son says heís ok. His brother shits all over that, breaks the feeble threads of hope, and I want to make a resounding thwack with a cricket bat against and his head. And maybe I wouldnít be so furious if it wasnít family, if it was just some schmoe off the street. But this is my uncle! Weíre supposed to count on him for comfort, arenít we? Itís not supposed to matter what we believe in, right? SoÖ why? Why destroy that? Why rip up my fatherís heart?
Jaysus! Iím soÖ Iím just soÖ
Thank God no one around here plays cricket.
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